Cold War historian Sergei Radchenko of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said, “Russia’s military failure in Ukraine is undermining Putin’s authority. The perception that a loss in Ukraine would seriously undermine his authority is very real.”
He said, “Russia has never been in dire straits under Putin. But now that dire crisis is being seen. Because every day Russia’s position on the battlefield in Ukraine deteriorates, Putin’s position also deteriorates.”
After 1999, Putin has managed one crisis after another, from the 2000 submarine sinking, to the hostage crisis in the Moscow theater (2002), to the anti-government protests (2011-12). But no other situation threatens him as much as possible defeat in the Ukraine war today.